Don’t Hate, Appreciate

Don't Hate Appreciate pic

I’m imagining all the possible reactions I’ll get for this particular posting (if any) but here goes nothing:

Whenever a major political event goes on in the world, the virtual world is put through a frenzy of bold, patriotic status updates, heated Facebook debates, and the occasional meme to provide some comic relief. This was definitely true of the 2012 presidential election, and the same goes for this week when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA.

I’m not writing this week to highlight the importance of equality, though it may seem that way. I even considered titling this week’s musings “Don’t H8, Appreciate,” but ultimately decided against it, as to keep the writing from sounding too one-sided. What I will do is reflect on the importance of maintaining respect or “appreciation” for your fellow humans whether you are for or against gay marriage.

If I have learned anything in the past few years, it is that tolerance is a two-way street. I’d like to think that one day we can live in a world where everyone can have an opinion, and be tolerant of opposing views without resorting to calling those whose views differ “ignorant Neanderthals” when their backs are turned (or even when they’re not).

I’m not the biggest philosophy fan, but I am rather fond of what Aristotle had to say about keeping an open mind – “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

I grew up in a conservative Christian home. But I am not conservative myself – nor am I liberal. I am however, open-minded. Vague? Perhaps. But to me, it’s perfect sense.

That said, a lot of people assumed (and maybe still do assume) unfair things about me as well as some of my friends based on our upbringing. They assumed that the only type of music I listened to was “Jesus music” (hipsta, please), they assumed that I was a judgmental stick in the mud, and they assumed that I hated homosexuals, though I never acted in a way that indicated such.

Don’t assume. You know what they say about people who assume…it makes a complete ASS out of U and ME (but mostly U).

That last assumption was incredibly hurtful. Like I said before, tolerance is a two-way street. I tolerated it when people unconsciously offended me when they referred to all Christians as “awful gay-haters” during the height of the Prop 8 legislation. I deal with it, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me. When you blatantly categorize me among those “awful gay-haters” without even knowing my story, that makes you the intolerant one. Not fun, is it?

Allow me to clear the air. I’m not a homophobe. At all. I might get some backlash for this later, but I believe that people should marry whomever they want to marry. I don’t care whether or not you believe in equal marriage. What may be right for you personally doesn’t justify it being forced on everyone else; the only “right” that really matters is the right for each to choose for themselves, so long as no one is getting hurt.

The seemingly automatic assumption that anyone even remotely associate with the church must hate the gay community is such an ignorant one. Truth be told, I don’t really like to disclose my religious affiliations sometimes because I hate all the preconceived notions that come with it. Just like how a gay person doesn’t want to be prejudged based on their sexual orientation, I don’t want to be prejudged either.  I mean, it’s obviously not the same thing, but you get my point.

For example…I was completely and utterly mortified when the Westboro Baptist Church held a protest at a military funeral, claiming “God hates fags!” amongst other things I’d rather not repeat. Talk about a major face palm. The God I identify with doesn’t hate anyone, and certainly wouldn’t use derogatory terms like that. Not to go all Bob Marley-reggae on you, but I was taught to love (“and be alright!”).

I can’t stand homophobes. It shouldn’t matter what your belief system is, no one deserves to be on the receiving end of hate. My heart breaks every time I hear yet another story of a gay student committing suicide due to bullying, or even when I hear someone speaking disrespectfully about a guy who happens to have a preference for other guys.

During dead week last semester, I decided to procrastinate via internet because let’s be honest, it’s so easy to do. One of my friends had put up a video link entitled “Love is All You Need,” a short film in which there was a bit of role reversal, and being gay was the norm whereas being straight was not. Go look it up on YouTube. I cried, which I almost never do.

Straight, gay, lesbian, bi, whatever you are, it doesn’t matter to me. And it shouldn’t matter to you either and how you treat people. Unless you’re seeking out a potential mate, of course.


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